A very interesting blog caught my attention in which a little history turned into some timeless lessons we could learn from none other than Mr. Benjamin Franklin – one of the best marketers of his time. Not only did he have access to a printing press to share his ideas and educate early America, but he inspired revolution and stamped his brand in history.
Earliest known content marketing examples are August Oetker’s cookbooks that were content marketing for his Backin baking powder (1891) or John Deere’s magazine The Furrow which served as content marketing for the company’s farm equipment (1895). BUT Mr. Franklin began publishing Poor Richard’s Almanack in 1732 (nearly 159 years earlier) and continued to publish for 25 years, each time harnessing the power of print and influence of words.
So, what are these lessons?
First, Franklin’s focus was on creating the best content possible. If you publish just anything today, it blends into the sphere of endless information. However, if you create content that has personality, resonates with people and is entertaining… then you have their Attention and Interest.
Listen to Benjamin Franklin’s own explanation of the type of content he was determined to use:
In 1732 I first published my Almanack under the name of Richard Saunders; it was continued by me about twenty-five years, and commonly called Poor Richard’s Almanack. I endeavoured to make it both entertaining and useful, and it accordingly came to be in such demand, that I reaped considerable profit from it, vending annually near ten thousand.
It wasn’t to self promote – it was to create entertaining and useful information.
Leading to the second lesson: produce content that our customers crave and value – especially if it isn’t focused on your business. Directly tied to generating GREAT content is generating DESIRED content.
The most powerful kind of content for you to create might actually be content that doesn’t focus on your business or industry at all. While he didn’t invent the concept of an almanac, he knew by popularity that his audience craved this type of content (best sellers second only to the Bible).
Discover the types of content your prospects and customers crave, and create it for them.
Third, Become an information connoisseur for your audience. Not only did Franklin include his own voice in the booklet, but he added the most basic elements of an almanac: calendar, weather info, poems and astrological info.
Even if you are recycling content or addressing the same topics of your competitor, you need to incorporate your Brand Voice.
Finally, don’t forget the power of serialization. One of the things that made Poor Richard’s Almanac valuable was it contained “news stories,” meaning that readers had to keep purchasing a new version to see what happened to the main news characters.
Even modern novelists and television show writers know that people love suspense and teasers. When you create content over a series of articles or blog posts and use teasers or cliff hangers at the end, your readers are compelled to find out more. It builds momentum as the story unfolds across article or posts.
It’s important we stay current with trends and tools that help reach our diverse audiences as technology advances, but don’t lose touch with the valued marketing lessons unchanged by time and across media.
What do you consider timeless marketing lessons?
How do you demonstrate a machine’s agility? Why playing a giant game of Jenga(R) of course… or so Caterpillar thought anyways and it has turned into a huge viral video success. While the details of most B2B ad messages are technical and not very innovative, Caterpillar shows us that any business can have a little fun in their marketing.
Wouldn’t it be fun to try this?!
And there’s a behind the scenes video bonus in this AdAge article.
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